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Stowaway Opossum Wreaks Havoc In Alaskan Town — But She’s Not The Only 1!

Grubby and two of her joeys

When it comes to North America’s only native marsupial, most people either love ’em, or hate ’em. Some people find opossums adorable; others find their sharp teeth, rat-like tail, and tendency to hiss at anything they see a bit off-putting. They’re already a divisive species, but the residents of Homer, Alaska recently found an even bigger reason to take sides on the topic of opossums. Her name is Grubby.

Grubby is a wild Virginia opossum who stowed away in the back of a shipping container from Washington state. Workers unloading supplies from the container spotted the critter and called a local animal shelter, who in turn called Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. No one knew what to do about the animal, because in Alaska, opossums are an invasive species.

“We don’t want invasive species in the state, because of the problems that come with them, and the disruption to the ecosystem that could cause so we do our best as an agency to limit them,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jason Herreman.

The dock workers set a trap for the opossum, and it worked! Unfortunately, Grubby turned out to be a bit of an escape artist, so she quickly landed back on the streets of Homer. She earned her name after local police reported her running down Grubstake Avenue.

When area residents learned that Fish and Game planned to euthanize the animal, many were upset. They protested online, adopting the hashtag #FreeGrubby. Before long, everyone in town had an opinion on whether Grubby should live or die! Social media buzzed with people urging leniency, while others sided with the experts who cited food competition and diseases that could harm Alaska’s native species.

After a month of arguing and with Grubby on the lam, Homer Police shared an update on Facebook. Grubby been captured, and she would not be euthanized after all. The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage stepped up to provide her with a new home!

Sounds like a happy ending, right? Well, sort of….

Just when the people of Homer were starting to get over the opossum drama, baby opossums, called joeys, started turning up around town. That’s right, Grubby brought along some stowaways of her own!

Fish and Game says the average opossum litter size is between 8 to 9 joeys, but there can be as many as 13. So far, they’ve captured 6 of Grubby’s babies and turned them over to the zoo. Officials urge residents to call them if they spot any opossums, assuring them that the joeys will not be euthanized. The sooner they find all of Grubby’s offspring, the better, because joeys can start breeding by the time they’re 8 to 12 months old.

What a dilemma! We’re on the “they’re cute” side of the debate, but we can definitely see why they’re not welcome among Alaska’s native flora and fauna. We hope all of Grubby’s joeys are found so they can live their lives in the comfort of the zoo.

Share this story to see where your friends stand on the opossum dividing line!

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